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Three under-the-radar galleries to visit on your next trip to Paris

A visit to the French capital is a way to immerse yourself in art, culture and fashion. The range of galleries and museums in Paris gives visitors a chance to open their minds not only to European culture but to the global cultures present in the capital. From learning about the history of Asian martial arts at Musée du Quai Branly, to looking at exquisite collections of Uzbek silks and crafts at La Maison de l’Ouzbékistan, there is something for everyone who visits Paris.

Here are the top 3 galleries and museums to visit when you’re looking for something a little different than the Louvre.

Musée du Quai Branly

Just a short walk away from the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du Quai Branly features indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum has permanent and temporary exhibits alongside thematic exhibits. Thematic exhibits feature masks and tapa cloth from Oceania, musical instruments and textiles from Africa and costumes from Asia. The museum also houses an impressive collection of arts from East Asia including artefacts from the Miao and Dong ethnic minorities in China, Buddhist art and Japanese stencil decorating.

Covering a wide range of topics, one of the museum’s current temporary exhibitions is titled “Arts of Fighting in Asia” which showcases the origins of Asian martial arts, their philosophies, and their practices. 

The museum also has a beautiful garden with trails, small hills and pools providing visitors some tranquillity amidst the noise and lights of Paris.   

La Maison de l’Ouzbékistan

La Maison, located in the heart of the French capital is a gallery that doubles as a boutique. Founded by Dr. Lola Tillyaeva (Lola Till), the boutique gallery describes itself as “a portal into the rich cultural heritage of Uzbekistan”. Featuring exquisite collections of various Uzbek crafts and clothes, visitors can learn about the stories behind the hand-crafted furnishings and ikat fabrics one can also buy on the spot. 

Uzbekistan, the native homeland of the founder Lola Tillyaeva, was the centre of the Silk Route and the country’s traditions, and culture are truly a melting pot made up of the people who visited from near and far. Entering La Maison will transport you back to a Golden Age. The boutique’s inner architecture is also very much influenced by Uzbek culture. You can see exquisite wooden pillars, hand-carved in Uzbekistan and an Oriental archway with stunning blue tiles reminiscent of the tilework Central Asia is famous for. 

The gallery also introduces some of Uzbekistan’s most vibrant up-and-coming artists, fashion designers, writers and artisans whose work combines the country’s centuries old customs with a new contemporary style. 

Afikaris

A contemporary gallery founded in 2018 by Florian Azzopardi promotes emerging artists who are influenced by African culture. Afikaris “fosters many different perspectives on Contemporary Africa in its various facets” and supports undiscovered artists on the continent. Their permanent gallery is located in Paris, but their exhibitions travel around the world through international fairs. In 2021, Afikaris had shows in Miami and London.

Currently on exhibit in their Paris gallery is Moroccan painter Omar Mahfoudi’s first major solo exhibition in France. The exhibition, titled El Dorado, is an exploration around light and Mahfoudi “proposes dreamlike painting, tainted with melancholy and mystery”.

The young gallery has garnered attention in recent years and is an absolute must-visit for anyone visiting Paris interested in African contemporary art.

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